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Old January 10th, 2007, 03:46 AM   #1
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Qualifying the customer before meeting them

I am quickly learning how unproductive it is to go out and meet with certain "potential" clients. I don’t want to sound rude or unwilling to meet with people, I just need to know they are serious about hiring me.

How do you tell them that you don't want to meet with them until they are ready to move forward and sign an agreement?

I need a smoother way of dealing with this situation.

Here is a list that I’ve come up with to help qualify a pontential client.

- Do they know that they can view your demos & price sheet online?
- Do they know what services they want?
- Do they know where and when the event is taking place?
- Are they interested in signing with you that day?
- Do they understand that they will be asked for a deposit to book your services?
- Will they pay travel expenses if the gig is out of town?
- Are they meeting with any other videographers?
- Do they sound reasonable/intelligent?

Feel free to add to this list. I’m interested in gathering some tactful ways to deal with these awkward scenarios.
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Old January 10th, 2007, 06:01 AM   #2
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I'm not sure I'd agree with your approach - though it seems somewhat typical of the general decline in the notion of customer service that has prevailed in business over recent years. They're hiring you, not the other way around, and they're doing you a favour by considering to use your services to fulfill whatever needs have lead them to look for a videographer. Instead of setting conditions on when you're willing to meet with them, you should be grateful that they're considering you at all (no matter how well established you are). As such, it's not their job to cater to your demands and needs - quite the opposite, it's your job to meet their's. That's not to say you should let potential clients walk all over you, take advantage of you, or let them force you to compromise in those areas that you require in order to deliver a professional product and earn a living doing it. But never get to the point that you think your convenience and needs are more important than those of your customer's and potential customers. They're not - and the entire reason they're going to pay you is for you to adopt their needs as your own and produce the video that they want.

Someone once said, the customer is not an intrusion on our business - the cstomer IS our business. So remember who is really in charge .... Hint: It's the customer, not you
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Old January 10th, 2007, 06:44 AM   #3
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What's your close rate on sales? It's easier to close a sale in person than over the phone, so even if a potential client falls into one of your red flag categories some probing questions and your sales ability may be able to convert the tirekicker to a customer. Develop an action plan for each of your categories (I'll call then risk items since they pose a risk to the sale), which could even include a referral to a buddy who does work you wouldn't consider.
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Old January 10th, 2007, 01:40 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House
I'm not sure I'd agree with your approach - though it seems somewhat typical of the general decline in the notion of customer service that has prevailed in business over recent years. They're hiring you, not the other way around, and they're doing you a favour by considering to use your services to fulfill whatever needs have lead them to look for a videographer.
I still feel it is important to qualify the client before meeting with them.

How do you handle inquiries that you know won't go anywhere? What do you tell them if you decide not to meet with them?

My top reasons for being too "busy" are

-they don't have a budget
-they are rude/confrontational
-they are visiting with 3 other videographers that day
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Old January 10th, 2007, 01:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Jaco
I still feel it is important to qualify the client before meeting with them.

How do you handle inquiries that you know won't go anywhere? What do you tell them if you decide not to meet with them?

My top reasons for being too "busy" are

-they don't have a budget
-they are rude/confrontational
-they are visiting with 3 other videographers that day
well, maybe this is just me, but:
-they don't have a budget
"I understand that you don't have a budget established yet for this project. Let me give you a brief overview of what I offer along with the price ranges for those types of services, and when you progress your project a bit further towards a budget I'd be happy to talk further."

-they are visiting with 3 other videographers that day
"I certainly understand you'll probably talk with others who do this as well. I'm happy to share my philosophies as to what I do that's different than the rest, and also give you a bit on my background as well. This may help you assess a fit of what you're looking for and the extent to which I can help."

-they are rude/confrontational
hmm... depends on the circumstances.
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Old January 10th, 2007, 01:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Stern
well, maybe this is just me, but:
-they don't have a budget
"I understand that you don't have a budget established yet for this project. Let me give you a brief overview of what I offer along with the price ranges for those types of services, and when you progress your project a bit further towards a budget I'd be happy to talk further."

-they are visiting with 3 other videographers that day
"I certainly understand you'll probably talk with others who do this as well. I'm happy to share my philosophies as to what I do that's different than the rest, and also give you a bit on my background as well. This may help you assess a fit of what you're looking for and the extent to which I can help."

-they are rude/confrontational
hmm... depends on the circumstances.

That is excellent!
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Old January 24th, 2007, 09:17 AM   #7
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Bump!

My point is that my prices are really cheap. These aren't 3K-5K weddings that I'm producing. They usually range between $600-$800. I'm honestly not trying to put undo pressure on people, I just need to maximize my time in order to keep my prices affordable.

Most of my non-wedding clients seem comfortable hiring me by phone. I just tell them what I can provide, give them my prices and it’s a done deal. It's these damn weddings that are driving me nuts. I don't charge extra to do them, yet I have to jump through a series of hoops, and even then, it's only a 20% success rate at getting them to sign the contract. I feel like I’m wasting my time. There is always some excuse about not being ready to make the deal, even though my samples are very well produced, they want to weasel out of it because they want to “think it over”. I hate to sound like a car salesman, but if you can’t get them to sign today, they probably won’t be hiring you.

Weddings are by far the most stressful events to shoot and take the most time to edit properly. I did a few cheap ones to build a demo reel but perhaps the time has come to have separate prices for weddings.

Any further tips on how to close the deal would be greatly appreciated.
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Old January 24th, 2007, 07:54 PM   #8
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Want a step by step solution?

Okay, try this.

Take a piece of paper and list the amount you charged for the last six weddings you did. Total it and divide it by 6 yeilding what you're averaging per wedding right now.

Write that number down at the top of a clean piece of paper.

Below that, double the price and write THAT down.

Then double it again and write THAT down.

and again, and again until you have a column of least 6 "doubled" numbers written down.

Now stare at the column of numbers and ask yourself this question.

Where in my new column would I WISH my rate to be so that instead of ever being ANNOYED by what I'm making, I'm totally, completely DELIGHTED to be doing this work.

Circle that number.

Price your next video precisely half way between your current rate and that circled number and give yourself ONE YEAR where you make a committment to do whatever it takes to get your rate up to your goal - your circled sum. If and when you land videos at your new interim rates - INVEST your new profits in whatever you need to make the kind of videos that will command your target rates.

The truth is, properly valuing one's work is one of the hardest things any entrepreneur must do. Often, our own fear is the ONLY thing keeping us from making what we're actually worth. PLUS, it's something the market will NEVER, EVER voluntarily tell you. This exercise forces you to find your actual "market worth" once and for all, no excuses)

One year from now, if you make it, drop us a line and tell us how happy you are.

If one year from now, you're totally out of doing weddings - congratulate yourself since I suspect you'll ALSO be WAY happier than you are right now.

Either way, good luck.
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Old January 28th, 2007, 12:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Jaco
Any further tips on how to close the deal would be greatly appreciated.
We do both photo and video and probably book 90-95% of the couples we meet with. Many come in for just photo and end up adding video after seeing a highlights clip. Within my market, the number on thing that closes the deal is the quality of the product. We don't do $600-800 dollar wedding and I think that us going to be a market with many more people who are comparision shopping and just looking for a 'wedding video' as a vague concept, as opposed to seeing what each company can uniquely offer.
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Old February 5th, 2007, 09:52 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Moreau
We do both photo and video and probably book 90-95% of the couples we meet with.
I find that very hard to believe. If you do in fact have a 95% success rate, you can't possibly be meeting with every client that calls you. Again, the question was asking how you qualify the client before meeting with them.

One thing I've started doing is sending out DVD samples in the mail to perspective clients. This saves a lot of gas money.
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Old February 5th, 2007, 10:01 AM   #11
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My point was- we don't qualify the caller and we end up booking most who get in touch. There are still those who cannot afford our prices and those would account for most of the 5-10% we don't book. We have plenty of samples and packages on our website, so those who do get in touch with us are usually very intersted already and many will book over the phone without coming down to meet us. Assuming you don't count those people who call with general questions (ie do you do video?), and your talking about those who call with an interest in your services and are considering meeting with you, I do think we book 90-95% of those.
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Old February 5th, 2007, 03:38 PM   #12
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I'm curious, where are you located? Can I view your website?
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Old February 5th, 2007, 04:03 PM   #13
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Scott,

My location and webpage are all linked to my name in the forum. Your more than welcome to check them out.

Patrick
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